Mastering the Master
Before we look at the MX Master and MX Anywhere 2, a couple of notes: everybody's hands are different, and my impressions may not match your own. It's probably a good idea to go get some hand time with these mice before buying, or to buy them from an online retailer with a solid return policy. Indeed, my impressions of these mice changed over time, and for the better.
The big, rounded shape of the Master invites a palm grip, though I also found that claw and fingertip-style grips work well. At least for my mitts, it wasn't difficult to find a comfortable hand position with this mouse.
One unexpected discovery was a sharp, unfinished edge or corner between the rubberized palm grip and the gold plastic right behind the thumb buttons, which caught and abraded the webbing between my thumb and palm when I gripped the mouse. This might be a fit-and-finish issue with my particular Master, and the edge did seem to dull with time, but it wasn't the kind of feeling that I was expecting from the Master's generally rounded and inviting shape.
The Master has a lighter, less ratchety scroll wheel than I'm used to. The clicky mode feels more like a rattly continuous spin unless you use a light touch. Some might prefer this lighter feel, but I'd happily transplant the stiffer, more clicky wheel from my G502 into the Master given the option.
The much-touted automatic switching between free-spinning and clicky mode does work beautifully, though. Being able to switch between the clicky and free-spinning modes on demand starts to feel like some kind of telepathic wizard magic after a while, and I hope Logitech adds this feature to more mice in the future. If the automatic scrolling isn't to your taste, you can switch between modes with the button behind the wheel at any time.
The thumb scroll wheel is another feature that I might not be able to live without. Its scrolling is click-free and mildly damped. It was amazingly useful to be able to scroll on both axes without moving my hand from the mouse or chasing scrollbars while I was editing photos for my Fractal Design Define S review, and I also found it handy when working with wide Excel sheets.
The Master's back and forward buttons are well-integrated with the design of the rest of the mouse, but they're somewhat strange-feeling and indistinct under the thumb. The thin edge of the buttons is all that comes into contact with the thumb, and it's hard to tell them apart by feel due to their similar edges and cramped positioning. The forward button also feels a little too small. This button layout is one area where it seems like form may have triumphed over function in the design phase.
Under the thumb rest lies another button, which Logitech configures as a "gesture button" by default. In Windows, holding down this button while moving the mouse left or right triggers Aero Snap. Moving the mouse up maximizes or minimizes the current window, while moving it down shows the desktop. Clicking it mimics Alt+Tab window switching. Logitech includes a number of pre-built gesture profiles for tasks like window management and media playback. Sadly, only one fully customizable gesture profile is available in the Options software—it would be nice to have multiple custom profiles for different apps.
The gesture button is a nice idea in theory, but holding down the button and moving the mouse doesn't always trigger the desired action. I sometimes brought up the Alt+Tab switcher when I meant to do something else, apparently because the mouse or software didn't sense my movement. Maximizing and restoring windows by moving the mouse up was an especially hit-or-miss gesture for some reason. Mac gestures like desktop switching also didn't work reliably. I'm not sure why this is, but it's an idea that needs refinement.
Out and about with the MX Anywhere 2
As its name implies, the MX Anywhere 2 is a mobile mouse, and everything about its design supports that mission. Its small, flattish body can slip into a laptop or camera bag without issue. Aside from its Master-like styling, the Anywhere 2 has a pretty standard control layout: back and forward buttons, left- and right-click buttons, a dual-mode scroll wheel with tilt buttons, and a single customizable button behind the wheel.
A mouse this tiny is really too small to be comfortable for my man hands. Since there's so little mouse to grab, I usually ended up holding the Anywhere 2 in my fingertips. The texturized rubber sides do feel good under the fingers, as do the main mouse buttons. The scroll wheel is a little notchier than the one on the Master, although I would still prefer more notchiness yet.
My biggest complaint about the MX Anywhere 2 is the lack of a middle button under the scroll wheel. Pressing down on this mouse's wheel switches between clicky scrolling and free-spinning modes. That may be fine for some, but I don't switch scrolling modes nearly as often as I middle-click to scroll through web pages and open or close browser tabs. Middle-click can be mapped to the button behind the scroll wheel or either of the scroll wheel's tilt buttons, but none of these options feel anywhere near as natural as regular middle-clicking.
That aside, the MX Anywhere 2 is a perfectly competent mouse—it's just not as fancy as its bigger brother. I would happily pay $20 more for the Master just to have the dual scroll wheels and the auto-switching middle wheel, but others will want the Anywhere 2's smaller body for on-the-go use.